to me we are entering a time where you can't even play a prank(in good fun of course) on your fellow brother or sister with out thinking in the back of your mind of getting in trouble. I starting to feel that the fd is starting to become very corporate, what do you think.

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i agree... it is to the point u cant say anything, even jokin around. or someone has to make comments and say ur gonna get in trouble or someone is going to turn u in.. or get everyone pissed off about it
Unfortunately, for all of you who feel times "shouldn't change"... well wake up because they already have. Laws pretain to everyone of us. I don't care if you are paid, call or volunteer, the fire department must now run as a business because well simply put it is one. We are in the service delivery business. During this time of economic crisis... I would hope that your chief or the board runs your budget as if it was a business. Otherwise, when the money dries up you might be pushing fire trucks to the fire.

Back on point, federal laws, more specifically discrimination, harrassment and sexual harassment are laws to protect the employee. Yes, volunteers are employees. Volunteers can be fired. Volunteer supervisors can be held accountable for NOT acting on the previous laws should an incident be reported by an employee.

This is why non-profit organizations need to hold liability insurance in case certain laws are broken.
I understand what you are saying, but don't you think we are in a very unique situation. As far as the men and women in the firehouse. We are not just the regular 9to5 suits. We are in a situation that we live together..fight together, and fall together at times. I agree somethings have to change. I'm a black firefighter and x amount of years ago I wouldn't have been accepted at many departments..Change is good. But as crews we should have a very strong bond that different than any other.. I hope that our chief does run it like a busniss that what its is up on the hill..But for the people in the trenches its a very different story. Some departments have a horrable conflict resolution tactics. Most misunderstanding can be talked through if given a chance.. The pranks I'm talking about it tapeing a water sprayer to get the rookie wet..I guess this is a firing offence to some of you out there, who just assume that its something extreme.
A sign of the times, it used to be no matter where you worked you could joke around a little but now a days its just like Fire Chick said.
Yea, I understand what you are saying. I guess I just have to accept people just want the court system, and the "powers that be" to make the right decession for us. To me a crew that laughs together, and play the "pranks" are some of the best functioning houses on and off a fire scene. I've seen and lived this..That is something the business, the courts, and the public for the most part will never understand.
And the Mean spirited and vicious pranks should be handled inhouse by the crew. I understand that this don't always happen..In my opinion most things should be handled by the crew if possiable.. I agree with you bullying has NO place in the firehouse, but it happens and thats when we need to handle it. It only gets bad if as a crew we allow it to get bad. I truly beleive in crew accountability on and off the fire ground.

Thanks for your great feedback Kali.
My fellow VFD members don't pull pranks. We might rib someone for a silly mistake that didn't have much dangerous potential which in turn we all learn from it. More serious mistakes made are hashed out in After Action Reviews. That in itself builds team work and esprit de corps.

Pranks are childish and have no training value, they just perpetuate into more pranks and revenge. TCSS
We absolutely enjoy a good firehouse prank, and fun in, and around the station, but there's a time and place for it. Horseplay isn't really tolerated for long, for fear of injury. In reallity, the fire dept. is a business, and we should be careful in the public eye, so to keep good standings within our community, and really anywhere else. After all, the people we serve are our customers. Paying customers in most cases. We encourage some fun so our members maintain a brotherhood, buddy feeling about each other. We have fun during training as long as it doesn't interfear with someone learning from something that's being taught. Fun is good for everyone.
I am finding since I took over as chief of my department that I can no longer joke around with my fire fighters because others get mad becasuse I do so.

I am begining to realise that it is lonely at the top and I can not act like I am one of them. I have alot of fire fighters who joke around and say off the wall things and I get crabbed at saying I should do something about it.

I would have to say we have to run them more along the lines of business and they days of joking around are gone.
First of all congrats!! No doubt you have a tough job..You have to be the man and it is alot on your shoulders now, but I think you'll find the balance. Just don't forget where you come from as a firefighter. Now you get to be the voice of your department.
Hi Alex,

Fire department is not the only organization that has people "living" together for long shifts and providing 24 hour service.

Police, military, isolated work sites (South Pole, oil drilling platforms, space station) and hospitals come to mind. Some enforce a zero tolerance approach to horseplay, others provide some leeway and some are the "don't tell and don't get caught."

Two snippets from the second edition of Company Officer, 2nd edition (coming out this fall):

The Fire Officer’s Role in Workplace Diversity

Jack W. Gravely is a lawyer, subject matter expert, and trainer on workplace diversity. He has been a frequent speaker at public safety agencies on issues of racial and cultural diversity. From 1985 to 1988, he was the Special Assistant to the County Manager for Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action (EEO/AA) in Arlington County, Virginia.

In that position Gravely developed the policies and staffing changes necessary to address the sudden influx of Central Americans, Asians, and Ethiopians who moved into the county. Gravely was appointed Director of Workplace Diversity for the Federal Communications Commission in 1995. He went on to work as a broadcaster and consultant for a diversity-based multi-media company.

(Story behind the story, I received diversity training from Gravely from the time he started as a contract trainer to a revealing discussion when I was working on the first edition of the textbook. His approach leads into the issue of on-duty pranks and hazing ... or "team building exercises." )

Gravely points out that a fire officer today has the benefits of four decades of EEO/AA court decisions to guide decision making. When he started diversity training classes, the emphasis was on the language of the regulations and their potential impact. The EEOC files about 400 lawsuits every year, there are hundreds of court decisions and a large body of case law that present a clear and generally consistent policy on how a supervisor should behave in the workplace. Gravely recommends that a fire officer focus on actionable items and hostile workplace. (gotta buy the textbook to get the details)

< >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

An amazing variety of actions can become fodder for hostile workplace complaints: hazing, pranks, verbal taunts and complex practical jokes. It is the COMPLAINTANT that decides if the activity was hostile.

< >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The Fire Station as a “Business Work Location”

The fire officer needs to consider the fire station or other fire department facility as a business work location. This is a drastic change from the concept of a fire station as a home away from home for a group of fire fighters, but it is necessary to ensure that the fire station maintains a professional work environment. In the eyes of the law and in the opinion of administrators and elected officials, the same rules of behavior apply to an office in city hall at 2 P.M. or a fire station at 2 A.M

The fire officer can help maintain an appropriate work environment by encouraging and enforcing acceptable behavior whenever fire fighters are on duty. The fire officer accomplishes this by:

• Educating the employees on the workplace rules and regulations that define expected behavior. Start with the local government’s “Code of Conduct” or other documents that outline the chief administrative officer’s expectations of all municipal employees. This can usually be found in the municipality’s mission statement, core values, or personnel regulations.

• Promote the use of “on duty speech.” The goal is not to change the thoughts or feelings of individual fire fighters, but to establish a workplace environment where certain behaviors and words are not used. Fire fighters can think what they want. However, while they are on duty, in the fire station, or in uniform, they cannot use certain words or phrases or act out certain behaviors.

• Be the designated adult. This requires the fire officer to model appropriate behavior as well as encourage and enforce the same behavior by the fire fighters. The fire officer must identify and correct unacceptable workplace behavior whenever it is observed. Ignoring a problem is, in reality, permitting it to continue. The fire officer who is a candidate for promotion is expected to identify, explain, and enforce the limits of unprofessional behavior
A company-level officer should make it a practice to walk around the fire station at various times during the workday to observe what is going on. This walk around is more important when the officer is in a big station with multiple companies and in combination career-volunteer departments, where there is a constant flow of people coming in and out of the fire station.

This practice is not designed to catch someone doing something wrong; rather, it is to make sure that everything is functioning properly. The officer should routinely determine what the crew members are doing and check on the safety of the facility and equipment. At the same time, the officer should look out for unexpected situations and surprises. Having a reputation that you know what is going on in the station and will react to inappropriate situations goes a long way toward encouraging appropriate workplace behaviors


Run it like a business, I agree.
"Promote the use of “on duty speech.”"
Away from the public use of the F-bomb will be tolerated,
around the public it will be highly discouraged.

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